Spain is rich in culture and traditions, which are reflected in its many festivals and events, which range from religious processions to wild food fights. Get ready to experience Spain like never before! Prepare to be amazed as we unveil the top 9 shocking festivals in Spain that will leave you utterly spellbound. 

Spain boasts a treasure trove of remarkable festivities, from exhilarating spectacles to centuries-old traditions that will ignite your senses and capture your imagination. Imagine throwing tomatoes at friends in a massive food fight or witnessing enormous statues erupt in flames. These are just a taste of the surprising, one-of-a-kind experiences that await you at Spain’s shocking festivals.

Top 9 Shocking Festivals and Events in Spain

Step into the vibrant tapestry of Spain’s cultural mosaic with our list of the top 9 shocking festivals in Spain and the allure of luxury vacation rentals in Spain. From the chaotic tomato-splattered streets of La Tomatina to the fiery spectacle of Las Fallas, Spain boasts a myriad of exhilarating celebrations. Dive into the heart of Semana Santa’s solemn processions or experience the adrenaline rush of San Fermin’s bull-running madness. Delve deeper into Spain’s rich cultural heritage with festivals like Fiesta Mayor de Gracia and Festival de los Patios, where communities come alive with music, art, and tradition. Join us on a thrilling journey through Spain’s most electrifying events that promise unforgettable experiences at every turn.

1. La Tomatina

A vibrant scene of La Tomatina festival in Spain
La Tomatina – Nilz

The La Tomatina is a wild and messy food fight festival in Spain. Participants throw tomatoes at each other for one glorious hour, a unique and unforgettable experience that attracts people worldwide.

  • When: La Tomatina is held on the last Wednesday of August each year, this year, on August 28th, 2024.
  • Where: The festival occurs in Buñol, a small town about 30 kilometers inland from Valencia on Spain’s eastern coast.

Highlights of La Tomatina:

  • Massive Tomato Fight: Thousands of participants gather in the streets, eagerly awaiting the signal to begin the tomato-throwing frenzy.
  • Tomato-Soaked Streets: During the event, the streets of Buñol transform into a sea of red as tons of tomatoes are squished and splattered.
  • Joyful Atmosphere: Despite the chaos, La Tomatina is characterized by a festive and playful atmosphere, with locals and tourists joining the fun.
  • Cultural Experience: Besides the tomato fight, La Tomatina offers cultural events such as parades, music, and traditional Spanish cuisine, providing attendees with a rich cultural experience.
  • Cleanup Efforts: After the tomato battle subsides, the community comes together to clean up the streets, showcasing the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation.

2. Las Fallas

Las Fallas fire fest, Spain's shocking festive
Las Fallas

In Valencia, Spain, Las Fallas is a vibrant celebration that embodies the city’s vibrancy and spirit. This festive extravaganza showcases art, tradition, and collective revelry with giant sculptures, street parades, and fireworks, transforming the city into a captivating kaleidoscope of color and sound for locals and visitors, making it one of the top 9 shocking festivals in Spain.

  • When: Held annually from March 15th to March 19th, Las Fallas marks a pivotal moment in Valencia’s calendar, drawing crowds from far and wide to partake in its festivities.
  • Where: Las Fallas’s heart beats in Valencia’s streets, where every corner becomes a stage for artistic expression and communal celebration.

Highlights of Las Fallas:

  • Monumental Fallas Sculptures: Witness the awe-inspiring craftsmanship as towering sculptures, meticulously crafted by skilled artisans, adorn the cityscape, each telling a unique story.
  • Daily Mascletà: Experience the rhythmic symphony of explosions during the daily Mascletà, a sensory onslaught that reverberates through the soul.
  • Street Parades: Immerse yourself in the pulsating energy of the street parades, where the rhythmic beats of music and the vibrant hues of traditional attire merge into a captivating spectacle.
  • La Ofrenda: Marvel at the breathtaking sight of thousands of galleries and fallers, bedecked in ornate costumes, as they offer a cascade of flowers to the Virgin Mary in a display of devotion and beauty.
  • Nit del Foc: Be dazzled by the nocturnal splendor of Nit del Foc, where the night sky is set ablaze with a mesmerizing array of pyrotechnic artistry.
  • Crema: Experience the bittersweet climax of Las Fallas as the majestic fall sculptures, symbols of ephemeral beauty, are engulfed in flames, leaving behind a poignant reminder of life’s transience.

3. Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Spanish Semana Santa religious processions
Semana Santa -Turista Inglesa

Easter is a significant celebration in Spain, with processions and religious services throughout the country. Seville is one of the most famous places to experience Semana Santa or Holy Week. This solemn and festive celebration commemorates Jesus Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection. It’s a major Christian holiday observed throughout Spain, with centuries-old traditions.

  • When: Semana Santa is a moveable feast, meaning its dates change yearly. It always falls on the week before Easter Sunday. In 2024, it runs from Sunday, March 24th, to Saturday, March 30th.
  • Where: Semana Santa is celebrated worldwide in various locations where Christianity is significant. Some of the most renowned celebrations occur in cities with robust Catholic traditions, such as Seville, Málaga, and Valladolid.

Highlights of Semana Santa:

  • Processions: The most iconic aspect of Semana Santa. Brotherhoods (cofradías) parade elaborately decorated floats (pasos) depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ.
  • Religious imagery: Stunning sculptures and religious iconography are carried in the processions.
  • Music: Solemn music played by marching bands creates a powerful atmosphere.
  • Religious fervor: A profoundly moving experience for many participants and observers.
  • Local traditions: Each region and city may have unique customs and celebrations during Semana Santa.

4. Haro Wine Festival

Haro's Wine Fight, Spanish top festival
Haro Wine Festival

The Haro Wine Festival, also known as La Batalla del Vino (The Wine Battle), is a summer festival in Haro, La Rioja, Spain, ranking among the top 9 shocking festivals in Spain. It is considered a ‘Festival of International Tourist Interest’ and is therefore very tourist-friendly. It celebrates the town’s renowned wine industry and culminates in a massive wine fight!

  • When: The Haro Wine Festival takes place annually around June 29th, the feast day of Saint Peter (San Pedro).  The festivities begin a few days before, but the main event, the wine battle, happens on this specific date.
  • Where: The festival is held in Haro, in the heart of Spain’s La Rioja wine region. The wine battle occurs on the Cliffs of Bilibio, just outside the town.

Highlights of the Haro Wine Festival:

  • Batalla del Vino (Wine Battle): Immerse yourself in the age-old tradition of the Batalla del Vino, where participants engage in an epic wine-soaked skirmish, dousing each other with copious amounts of crimson nectar amidst joyous revelry.
  • Procession of the Wine: Experience a dazzling parade of ornate floats carrying barrels of fine Rioja wine through Haro’s cobblestone streets, accompanied by lively music, dance, and joyous festivities.
  • Wine Tastings and Culinary Delights: Savor the diverse palette of Rioja wines through guided tastings hosted by esteemed wineries, offering a tantalizing array of varietals to suit every discerning palate. Indulge in delectable culinary creations crafted to complement the rich tapestry of flavors inherent in Rioja’s finest vintages.
  • Cultural Performances: Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Spanish culture through vibrant folkloric performances, live music, and traditional dances. These performances infuse the festival with an unmistakable sense of vivacity and charm.
  • Fireworks Extravaganza: Each day ends with a stunning fireworks show lighting up the La Rioja sky, painting it with vibrant colors, marking the climax of another unforgettable day at the Haro Wine Festival.

5. Feria de Abril (Seville April Fair)

Feria de Abril, top festive in Spain
Feria de Abril

The Feria de Abril, also known as the Seville April Fair, is a vibrant and joyous celebration of spring in Seville, Spain. It’s a week-long fiesta filled with flamenco music, dancing, delicious food, and traditional Andalusian culture.

  • When: The Feria de Abril is a moveable feast two weeks after Easter Sunday. This year (2024), it occurred from Sunday, April 14th, to Saturday, April 20th.
  • Where: The Feria de Abril is held in a special fairground called El Real de la Feria in Seville, Spain. The fairground is filled with thousands of colorful casetas (marquees) where people gather to celebrate.

Highlights of Feria de Abril (Seville April Fair):

  • Casetas: The heart of the Feria. These private tents are decorated and stocked with food and drinks, where families and friends gather to socialize and party.
  • Flamenco: Experience the electrifying energy of flamenco performances throughout the fairground.
  • Sevillanas: Learn and participate in Sevillanas, a lively Andalusian folk dance.
  • Traditional clothing: Women dress in colorful flamenco dresses, and men wear trajes de corto (short suits) for a festive atmosphere.
  • Horse-drawn carriages and riders: A daily parade showcasing beautiful carriages and Andalusian horses adds a touch of elegance.
  • Bullfighting: Though not for everyone, daily bullfights are a traditional part of the Feria.
  • Food and drinks: Savor delicious tapas, fresh seafood, and refreshing local wines.
  • Festive atmosphere: Music, laughter, and dancing fill the air, creating an unforgettable experience.

6. San Fermin (Running of the Bulls)

Running bulls in San Fermin, Spain's shocking festivals
San Fermin

A week-long festival celebrated in Pamplona, Spain, pays homage to Saint Fermín, one of the city’s co-patron saints. Renowned for its adrenaline-pumping spectacle known as the Running of the Bulls, participants dash ahead of charging bulls along the city’s streets.

  • When: San Fermín takes place annually from July 6th to July 14th.
  • Where: The festival is held in Pamplona, Spain, located in the Navarre region.

Highlights of San Fermín

  • The Running of the Bulls (El Encierro): Running of the Bulls (El Encierro) is the most famous event. Every morning from July 7th to 14th, runners attempt to outrun a herd of bulls along an 875-meter course through Pamplona’s old town.
  • Opening Ceremony (Chupinazo): The festivities kick off at noon on July 6th with the lighting of a rocket (chupinazo) and the singing of the festival anthem.
  • Bullfights (Corridas): Every afternoon during the festival, bullfights are held in the Pamplona bullring using the bulls that ran earlier that morning. (This aspect of the festival is controversial)
  • Traditional Events: Throughout the week, there are numerous conventional celebrations like parades with giant figures (comparsas), religious processions, and open-air performances.
  • Festive Atmosphere: The city transforms into a vibrant atmosphere filled with music, dancing, food, and drinks in the streets.

7. Festival de los Patios

Colorful patios at Festival de los Patios, Spain
Festival de los Patios

The Festival de los Patios, or the Courtyards Festival, celebrates the unique and beautiful courtyards in Cordoba, Spain. During the festival, homeowners decorate their private courtyards with dazzling flowers and open them to the public.

  • When: The Festival de los Patios is typically held during the first two weeks of May. The dates for 2024 have yet to be announced, but based on previous years, it’s likely from May 2nd to May 12th.
  • Where: The festival occurs throughout the historic center of Cordoba, Spain.

Highlights of the Festival de los Patios:

  • Stunning Flower Displays: The main attraction is the explosion of color and fragrance as homeowners compete to create the most impressive floral displays in their courtyards.
  • Architectural Gems: The courtyards are architectural wonders, showcasing traditional Andalusian design elements like fountains, tiles, and whitewashed walls.
  • Cultural Immersion: Experience the local culture by visiting these private spaces and chatting with the friendly residents who take pride in their courtyards.
  • Free Entry: Admission to most courtyards is free, with some accepting small donations.
  • Festivities and Food: Traditional music, flamenco performances, and opportunities to sample local delicacies accompany the festival.

8. Fiesta Mayor de Gracia

Decorated streets at Festa Mayor de Gracia, Spain
Festa Mayor de Gracia

The Fiesta Mayor de Gracia, or the Gràcia Festival, is a vibrant street festival held annually in Barcelona, Spain. It celebrates community spirit and creativity, transforming the Gràcia district into a dazzling spectacle.

  • When: The Fiesta Mayor de Gracia typically lasts around seven days during the third week of August. In 2024, the dates are likely from August 15th to August 21st, but it’s best to check with official sources closer to the date.
  • Where: The festival unfolds throughout the streets and squares of the Gràcia district in Barcelona.

Highlights of the Fiesta Mayor de Gracia:

  • Spectacular Street Decorations: A standout feature of the festival is the intricate street decorations in Gràcia. Residents unite to create stunning displays, turning the neighborhood into an open-air museum with themes ranging from fantastical creatures to historical scenes. A competition for the best-decorated street adds to the excitement.
  • Live Music and Performances: Gràcia’s streets burst with music and performances during the festival week. Various stages in squares host Catalan folk, salsa, rock concerts, and surprise acts by local bands or street performers.
  • Open-Air Dinners and Street Food: The festival offers a chance to enjoy Barcelona’s finest food. Restaurants serve tapas and Catalan specialties on the streets, while stalls offer street food like churros, paella, grilled meats, and vegetarian options.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: The Fiesta Mayor de Gràcia is a family-friendly event that offers children’s activities like face painting, storytelling, and arts and crafts. Kids also participate in festival traditions, dressing up in Catalan costumes.
  • Castells: A festival highlight is the “castells” – human towers built by local teams. These towering structures showcase remarkable teamwork and coordination.
  • Fire Runs (Correfocs): No Catalan festival is complete without a correfoc, a thrilling event in which people run through the streets setting off fireworks and sparklers. This exciting and somewhat dangerous spectacle will get your adrenaline pumping.

9. La Merce

La Merce festival in Spain
La Merce

The Mercè Festival is the main festival and a vibrant celebration held annually in Barcelona, Spain. It honors the city’s patron saint, Mare de Déu de la Mercè (Virgin of Mercy). The festival is a lively farewell to summer and a welcome to autumn.

  • When: La Mercè takes place around September 24th each year. The festivities typically last four to five days, with events before and after the primary date.
  • Where: La Mercè festivities span Barcelona, with critical events in the city’s heart.

Highlights of La Mercè:

  • Correfoc (Fire Run): This is the festival’s undisputed highlight. The streets come alive with a dazzling display of firecrackers, fireworks, and fire-breathing “devils” who run through the crowds. 
  • Castells (Human Towers): Witness incredible feats of strength and teamwork as teams build towering human castles, reaching up to ten stories high! 
  • Opening Parade: Kick off the festivities with the lively parade featuring giants, big-headed figures, dancers, and musicians making their way through the streets. 
  • Fireworks Finale: The festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks display over the city. 
  • Gegants I Capgrossos (Giants and Big-Heads): These prominent paper-mâché figures representing historical and mythical characters dance their way through the streets, adding to the festive atmosphere.
  • Street Performances:  Throughout the festival, enjoy a variety of street performances, from traditional Catalan music and dance to contemporary circus acts.
  • Light Shows: During the festival, Barcelona’s iconic buildings dazzle with unique lighting displays.


In conclusion, the top 9 shocking festivals in Spain showcase the country’s vibrant culture and rich traditions. From the exhilarating Running of the Bulls in Pamplona to the mesmerizing La Tomatina festival in Buñol, each event offers a unique glimpse into Spain’s colorful tapestry of celebrations. Spain’s festivals always leave a lasting impression, whether it’s the thrill of adrenaline or the sense of community. So, immerse yourself in the magic of Spain’s Top 9 Shocking Festivals and Events and experience the unforgettable.


Q1. Is the running of the bulls dangerous?

Running with the bulls can be perilous, and participants risk trampling or goring. Therefore, they must exercise extreme caution and follow safety guidelines.

Q2. What is unique about the Wine Battle of Haro?

The Wine Battle of Haro, held in La Rioja, involves participants dousing each other with wine using buckets, water guns, and other containers. It is a vibrant and messy celebration.

Q3. Are there any safety precautions to consider when attending these festivals?

Yes, attendees should follow safety instructions from organizers, avoid risky behavior, stay hydrated, and be mindful of their surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at these shocking festivals in Spain.